Your best bet is to use C. It is highly efficient. If possible use computational code like the Atlas BLAS package. This code will run circles around your own code no matter what language you use. You already know C and moving to C++ is a major problem. All the other languages are distractions from your purpose.
If possible run multiple, independent processes rather than writing parallel code. That can be a major ordeal.
If your goal is to process data as opposed to learning elaborate programming techniques, keep simplicity in mind. C is a very powerful language and you can reach maximal efficiency for many problems using Atlas BLAS and multiple processes. If you goal is to get a degree in CS, ignore what I've suggested.
I think $54M is a bit expensive too. I can imagine that it might take some effort, but this would pay a team of 500 programmers for a year. I expect it could be done by a team of 5 to 10 in the same time. This sounds like the mythical $500 hammer to me.
A better alternative would be to set up no exchanges and let the insurance companies provide the web sites. You would find some innovative people setting up exchanges on their own just like you now find exchanges for hotels and airlines. All the government needed to do was tell the insurance companies the new insurance laws and let it happen.
If you're having performance issues, then C++ would offer a more efficient solution. Why jump through all these hoops to boost Java performance? Just use C++ and get twice the performance instantly with Linux. I tend to agree with the AC that the language issue is overblown. With practice programming is about the same level of difficulty with most languages. C++ does a pretty good job at compile time checking, interfaces directly with the system calls and offers nearly all the performance you can get from the computer. (AVX instructions can be done quite well in assembly, but most cloud apps would not benefit from using AVX.)
Unless you have substantial computation or disk I/O, I would expect the bottleneck to be the network. With compute bound apps the OS is irrelevant. Likewise with I/O devices the time spent in system calls is dwarfed by the disk speed.
I would not trust a commercial operating system to not be loaded with back doors accessible to the NSA. That's not even considering the history of Windows vulnerabilities. If I were in charge of IT for a foreign government, a news agency, a military or any business I would start by banning the use of Windows. With Linux it should be possible to have a computer which can search the Internet and prepare reports with no open ports for external attack. That should be the first step. Following that there needs to be training in human factors vulnerabilities. A computer for work should be a tool, not a toy, and user preference should not be the highest priority. Security should be first. Linux is clearly good enough for business purposes. I can see a value in Windows for gamers, but not for work computers. OS X is less vulnerable than Windows, but can you really be sure that the NSA can't access all OS X systems?
I would expect that hackers might also discover back doors. They would certainly study the instructions in the OS to try to find the holes.
Now I have been assuming that the computer was not running Linux. Perhaps it was. It is possible to screw up with Linux systems.
Fortunately for me, no one wants me to run their IT operation. It would be so painful trying to educate the users.
Maybe I'm a little too paranoid. Luckily not much is at risk on my home computers. I would not wish to do anything interesting to the NSA.
How much trouble could it be for the coders of Slashdot to really limit the length of the initial part of posts to limit the nuisance caused by the person who keeps posting lengthy nonsense? It sounds like an easy fix which should be done immediately.
At 400' shooting down a bird flying with anything but a missile is damn near impossible.
The best portable way would be modified version of something like the XM-25 delayed explosive, grenade launcher. that would be as close to a portable flax cannon as you can get.
Also at 400' you have to be able to spot the thing. Drones that size are all but a small dot in a very big sky. Made of wood, fiberglass, and carbon they have next to nothing for radar return.
Good point. They could also be painted a non-reflective blue, making a blue dot on a mostly blue sky. It would be hard to use a missile against an invisible drone.
If they're truly wanting to make the thing "look" like a bird, they need to model a bird's flying style. Predators move around an area and search; if these just stay in the same spot or even evenly patrol an area it's going to stand out.
They also need to flap the wings to look like a bird. After a few seconds of viewing a soaring bird, lots of criminals will now shoot it down just to be sure.